Every argument ever in the world has two sides with the weightier one invariably winning the argument. While there’s nothing like a complete black and complete white, there are as we are all aware, shades of grey, and plenty of them everywhere.
The world of teaching, education, and learning too is no exception. The ancient system of education where the teacher prevailed over every thought and with nothing in the name of an established, centralized authority too had its own pluses and minuses. Education with existing exigencies, mores times and costs too has undergone humongous changes. Times were when the Teacher, Master or Guru was central to learning. Times are when Computers, Software, AR & VR are coming center stage in the field of learning. As mentioned before, both have their grey areas. And both have their high points. What is thus needed is to have a common ground. We elaborate on the same below.
Why education in the first place? If it’s purely for the sake of a career, money, job and the likes, it makes sense to pursue the tech method of learning given that it’s best to train people on things that need constant repetition. A computer can generate n number of practice question papers whereas its human counterpart under the traditional system can do hardly a 10th of the same. Since most jobs demand rote learning, it makes sense to go mechanical with the most mechanical ie technology. But if it’s about learning for a higher reason like becoming a better individual who has empathy, warmth and sound education (as opposed to learning), a mix of the traditional with technological makes sense. The technology can take care of the grind whereas the traditional can take care of learning things abstracts which these days are in great demand everywhere, be it in industry or education itself.
Connect and Empathy
A good example of this point could be an organization’s Customer Relationship Management, these days more known by its acronym, CRM. A system-based CRM is good to get and store information of every client/ lead. Even sending invitations, messages and automated emails can be the CRM’s forte. But when it comes to creating the actual connect, there’s nothing anywhere close to the human touch! A human voice at the other end which is NOT a Bot can make all the difference! Enquiring about someone’s needs, health and the likes coming from a human is something that can never be replicated by any machine! The same applies to education and learning. Education in the present context is anything but simple and straight. One has to SLOG to be anywhere. With tech support and ONLY tech support, the student (irrespective of age), could crack in no time due to the pressure. What though may make a difference, is the essential human touch that comes from the traditional system of education. Every student has potential but unlike machines whose capabilities are very obvious, in the case of humans, such capabilities could be all but hidden for most parts of their student lives! This hidden treasure in us humans can best be brought out only by another empathizing human.
Depth of Knowledge
You could sit on a PC and mine its search engine for all its worth. Yet it would come up with some new information or the other. The same shall never be possible with such speeds and volumes in the case of us humans. But then, for whose benefit is the information being generated? What use are computers if humans do not use them. For this reason, there always ought to be a mix between a machine and a corresponding man who knows the hows and whys of the machines. A machine presents the perfect storehouse of information which if handled the right way, can get a lot for students, irrespective of age, status, and stage in life. A human, on the other hand, makes for the greatest interface between any machine and another set of humans who could be students.
Variations in Subjects
Like every argument can have varied outcomes, ever subject taught irrespective of its settings, can have variations. That being the case, it could be quite a task for any human teacher to try and learn so much the alternative to which could be more than one teacher which invariably brings in issues of getting along, egos, co-ordination, and the likes. In the case of machines with the right configuration, these issues just don’t exist. One machine with the right software can do much more than a bunch of humans and with much lesser relational issues. That said, a machine, as of now, has limited scope to emote and be involved the way a human can. So, a human interface!
Cost v Returns
Tech-related products in most cases incur a one-time cost whereas, in the case of normal teaching, costs are almost continuous and recurring. This typically makes tech-related products a capital investment whereas the human component becomes the revenue component. Operational and product/ output differences aside, this difference between capital and revenue sometimes amounts to a big, big deal where it starts to affect the survival and efficiency of an organization. Take for example a teaching institute. Despite the best of teachers who come and go as is expected, it is when they make an investment in capital assets that things start to change people’s outlook. Will it bring change as desired? When? And how? Will the students be able to take up the challenge of learning from machines? A lot of thoughts could go into such a venture. BUT, where a good, seasoned teacher becomes the interface between the user and the IT system, there is a possibility that this issue gets sorted out at the earliest and things move ahead smoothly. A balance between tech and man is thus of great importance.